If you do any search on Google today you’ll see a graphic of a doctor holding a baby. The image is of Thailand’s first female doctor, Margaret Lin Xavier, and today marks her 122nd birthday.
Xavier, whose Thai name is Lin Srivisarnvaja, was an expert in obstetrics and gynaecology. She opened a private clinic with her sister who was a pharmacist. Many times she would treat women for free who couldn’t afford care as well as sex workers, according to a Khaosod English story.
She was born in Bangkok and her father worked in foreign affairs for the government. She studied at schools in Penang and London, obtaining a medical degree from the London School of Medicine for Women. She then moving back to Thailand in 1924 when she was 26 years old and started working as an obstetrician at the Thai Red Cross, Chulalongkorn Hospital. She was the first Thai woman to earn a medical degree and practice in the country.
She only practiced medicine for 8 years. She was only 34 years old when she died in 1932 due to encephalitis and influenza. But her work opened doors in the medical field for Thai women. As of December, less than a century after Xavier started working, 45% of the 61,302 doctors in Thailand are women, according to the Medical Council of Thailand.
The Thaiger salutes this pioneer in Thai obstetrics and gynaecology, Margaret Lin Xavier.
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